Annapolis, MD — Ed Gillespie’s landslide 9-point loss has Governor Larry Hogan running scared, says the Maryland Democratic Party. After months of ignoring the destructive Trump agenda, Governor Hogan has been pushed into a corner in his state where Democratic voters have a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage.
His first instincts are to support his Republican Party allies, as he did when endorsing failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie. Only after the GOP losses in Virginia and Maryland, and after several Republican leaders—including Governor Mitt Romney, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator John McCain—came out against accused child molester Roy Moore did Hogan call on Moore to withdraw from the race.
Roy Moore’s homophobic, Islamophobic and white supremacist views have found a home among the Republican establishment in Maryland. He was endorsed by Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka—who has donated more than $600,000 to Moore’s campaigns in the last decade—and Congressman Andy Harris–who donated $2,000 for Moore’s Senate campaign.
“Governor Hogan saw voters in Virginia, Annapolis and Frederick overwhelmingly reject Trumpism, and like a typical politician, he is now scrambling to change his tune,” said Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson Fabion Seaton. “Condemning a child abuser is not leadership; it’s common decency. For too long, Governor Hogan has ignored Trump’s destructive policies and enabled the worst aspects of Trumpism. Condemning a child abuser after massive public outcry isn’t nearly enough to separate Hogan from his toxic party.”
Last week, Hogan’s campaign said Maryland voters “know that Gov. Hogan is radically different in both tone and substance than what they are see coming out of Washington, D.C.”
The problem with that statement: Governor Hogan has enabled the worst aspects of Trumpism, while feigning distance from Trump and Republicans’ toxic brand in Maryland.
Hogan and his Maryland Republican colleagues have mimicked Trump’s divisive politics. Hogan himself endorsed Ed Gillespie’s hateful campaign for Virginia governor, and Scott Wagner’s Trump-lite campaign for Pennsylvania Governor. Just like Gillespie, Hogan has also used racist dog whistles on multiple occasions to shore up his political support.
Meanwhile, in the Annapolis mayor’s race, a superPAC backed by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, both Hogan allies, ran anti-immigrant ads against Mayor-elect Gavin Buckley; and James Appel, the failed aldermanic candidate, who is a Hogan appointee and Hogan campaign official, distributed racist fliers attempting to falsely tie Alderman-elect Marc Rodriguez to MS-13. These tactics have failed.
Hogan also knows that he can’t abandon his base too much or he will feel the heat. Less than half of all Maryland Republican voters supported Hogan’s decision to note support President Trump during the 2016 election. When he reversed his previous Trumpist position on the Roger Taney statue in Maryland this past August, Governor Hogan was rebuked by Maryland Republican base voters. There have been reports that Governor Horgan is “rapidly losing support from the base” of the Republican Party and that Republican insiders are worried his “re-election is in peril…” Hogan’s poll numbers among Republican voters have slipped markedly. On election night, one Republican Member of the House of Delegates reportedly predicted that next year will be “a bad year for Maryland Republicans.”
During his failed campaign for governor, Ed Gillespie struggled to navigate the same political minefield. Should he run with or from Trumpism? He settled on a strategy of “Trumpism without Trump,” which resulted in a wave election up and down the ticket in Virginia. Hogan is struggling—and failing—to navigate the same minefield.